Latest News Editor's Choice

News / National

Zimbawean scientist is saluted in Time's 100 influential persons

by Staff Reporter
06 Jun 2022 at 09:45hrs | Views
A ZIMBABWEAN scientist credited with the discovery of the Covid-19 Omicron variant has been recognised as one of Time magazine's 100 most influential people in the world.

Time 100 is a yearly list of the 100 most influential people in the world, assembled by the American news magazine, Time, with the last Zimbabwean to feature on the list being President Mnangagwa in 2018.

The magazine recognises the impact, innovation, and achievement of the world's most influential individuals and Dr Sikhulile Moyo, a virologist based in Botswana, raised the nation's flag high this time around.

Virologists are medical doctors that oversee the diagnosis, management, and prevention of infections.

Dr Moyo, the Research Laboratory Director at the Botswana Harvard AIDS Institute Partnership (BHP), was recognised together with Dr Tulio de Oliveira, director of South Africa's Centre for Epidemic Response and Innovation.

Dr Moyo noticed an unusual pattern while sequencing Covid-19 samples in mid-November last year, and shared his findings with colleagues in South Africa, who also found the new sequence.

Dr Moyo is a former co-chair of the laboratory technologist committee for the global AIDS Clinical Trials Group (ACTG) and the International Maternal, Paediatric, Adolescent AIDS Clinical Trials Network (Impaact).

According to media reports, one of Dr Moyo's biggest contributions has been in the mother-to-child HIV transmission studies.

These have had a significant impact on preventing HIV transmission, improving birth outcomes, HIV incidence, diversity, and drug resistance, and multiple pathogen genomics projects involving hepatitis, norovirus, sapovirus, human papillomavirus, and tuberculosis.

In an interview with a South African publication, the 49-year-old scientist said in the fight against global scourges, collaboration is the solution. "The only way to succeed is by To Page 2collaborating and continuously sharing ideas. Success in science comes through genuine collaboration.

"Working with leading scientists at Stellenbosch, such as De Oliveira and the Network for Genomic Surveillance in South Africa has been fulfilling for me and has exposed me to great, transparent science and capacity building," said Dr Moyo.

Citing Dr Moyo's contribution to the fight against Covid-19, Dr John Nkengasong, director of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, said the discovery of the variant by Dr Moyo and Dr de Oliveira was transformational.

"Scientists in Africa have been monitoring and sequencing pathogens since long before the pandemic. The world benefited from this network when scientists including Sikhulile Moyo, laboratory director for the Botswana-­Harvard HIV Reference Laboratory, and Tulio de Oliveira, director of South Africa's Centre for Epidemic Response and Innovation, identified and reported the emergence of the Omicron variant last November.

"It was a transformational moment and a shift in paradigm — one that for me symbolised that excellence in science can originate in Africa.

"The international response to news of this discovery — which included travel bans imposed on African countries by other nations — was complex. It made me reflect on what global co-operation and solidarity must look like when we fight a common threat like Covid-19.

"Every generation has people who inspire subsequent generations. Sikhulile and Tulio have the potential to be that for people who will work in public health and genomics. We have not seen the end of their contributions," he said.

Source - Herald